Qatar eases more coronavirus restrictions as ‘peak passes’

Limited reopening of restaurants, mosques, beaches and parks, but public gatherings now limited to five people from 10.

People walk in West Bay area in Doha, Qatar, March 25, 2020. Qatar has imposed a series of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, including closing of parks and public areas, banning social gat
Qatar has allowed people to exercise outdoors without a face mask [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar is further easing its coronavirus restrictions, allowing a partial reopening of restaurants, mosques, beaches and parks.

Starting Wednesday, museums and libraries will also be permitted to operate in a limited capacity and under limited working hours, the country’s Supreme Committee for Crisis Management said in a statement.

It added that the decision to launch Phase Two of the gradual reopening plan was based on infections having passed their peak and the reproduction rate subsiding.

Under the new guidelines, 50 percent of public and private sector employees will be allowed back in the workplace as needed and under strict safety conditions, but gatherings are now limited to five people – reduced from 10.

Professional athletes will also be allowed to train in groups not exceeding 10 people.

Qatar has the second-highest tally of infections among the Gulf states after its neighbour Saudi Arabia. It reported 982 new cases on Tuesday, taking its total to 96,088, with 113 deaths.

Qatar started lifting its lockdown restrictions in four phases last month, allowing some stores in shopping centres to reopen and for people to exercise outdoors without wearing a face mask.

Souq Waqif, Doha, Qatar on 26 June 2020 [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Closed shops as a few people seen at Souq Waqif, in Qatar’s capital Doha [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera] 

The third phase, scheduled from August 1, will permit the resumption of flights from low-risk countries for priority passengers, such as returning residents.

It will also see the complete reopening of shopping centres, while health clubs, gyms, swimming pools, salons and hairdressers will be active with limited capacity.

The fourth phase will allow wedding parties and business gatherings, such as industrial exhibitions. It will also see the reopening of theatres, museums, libraries and cinemas.

On May 22, the Gulf country with a population of roughly 2.8 million made it mandatory for all citizens and residents to download the EHTERAZ application on their phones when leaving their homes.

The app uses GPS and Bluetooth technology to help track COVID-19 cases, informing users if they come into contact with someone who may have tested positive for the disease.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies